MIAMI–A Florida man was sentenced August 23 to more than 17 years in prison and 30 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to traveling to the Dominican Republic for engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors.
The sentencing is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Miami and the Dominican Republic.
According to court documents, Theodore Williams Symonds, 51, of Wesley Chapel, Florida, travelled frequently between the United States and the Dominican Republic including a trip on March 20, 2017. Symonds was arrested March 23, 2017 by local Dominican authorities for crimes related to the sexual abuse of children. HSI began investigating him shortly thereafter and uncovered proof of Symonds’ sexual abuse of children, both in person and using the internet.
“This sentence should send a powerful message to child predators who believe that they can evade law enforcement by using international travel to engage in this type of reprehensible behavior,” said Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Miami. “Sexual exploitation of children is a despicable crime that will never be tolerated. HSI will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners around the world so that sexual predators are always brought to justice.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners stand united against child exploitation and abuse,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg said. “There is no immunity for these heinous crimes, whether committed at home or abroad. Any individual who victimizes the most vulnerable members of society, our children, can look to today’s sentencing to see there will be severe consequences within the U.S. federal criminal justice system.”
The investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2017, more than 2,700 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 900 victims identified or rescued.